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If you go
What: Brickworld
Where: Grand Wayne Center, 120 W. Jefferson Blvd.
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today
How much: $9 for adults, $6 for ages 9 and younger, free for ages 2 and younger

Saturday afternoon at the Grand Wayne Center. Video by Swikar Patel.

Michael Thomas, 12, looks through an opening at a Lego Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday afternoon during Brickworld at Grand Wayne Center.

Whole lot of Legos to look at

Brickworld event features unique, complex designs

Photos by Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Vincent Hood, 6, points to a hanging dragon Saturday at Grand Wayne Center during the Brickworld exhibit, which features constructions from Lego builders from across the U.S. and Canada.

The images were maybe 2 feet by 2 feet. One portrayed Link, “The Legend of Zelda” character, and the other, his princess.

From a distance, the images appeared to be paintings, or perhaps colored pencil or marker drawings. Closer inspection, however, proved these pieces of art, with beautiful shading in the characters’ skin, hair and clothing, to be made of Legos.

The Brickworld convention is at Grand Wayne Center this weekend, drawing Lego builders from across the country and Canada.

It also draws children and adults who want to gape at the artistry, craftsmanship and patience involved to make, say, a one-third-scale replica of a 95-liter turbo diesel engine; or Diagon Alley, from “Harry Potter”; or an 8-foot long Rube Goldberg machine, kind of like a detailed, expanded version of the board game Mouse Trap.

The contraption moves a series of Lego basketballs and soccer balls by flinging them through the air and catching them in a Lego basket, or via a huge Ferris wheel, or by taking a mini train trip or any of a dozen other methods of motorized transport.

Bryan Bonahoom, the event’s executive director, started Brickworld in 2003 in Chicago after he and other Midwesterners grew tired of trekking it to Washington, D.C., for a Lego convention.

Seeing the Chicago convention’s success – it spans five days and draws Lego architects from countries including Australia, Sweden and Brazil – Bonahoom grew the convention to Indianapolis and, last year, to Fort Wayne.

The Fort Wayne event, continuing today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., features 25 people with displays, robotics competitions, a pile of 10,000 Legos for kids to play with and an all-robot game of capture the flag, where the players draw cards and feed them into a machine that tells the robots – including WALL-E and R2-D2 – how to move. The full game is made with a quarter-million Legos, Bonahoom said.

Bonahoom became involved with Legos through a friend. The Lego League’s state competition for robotics is held at IPFW, and a friend’s team qualified in the early 2000s. The friend stayed with Bonahoom, who lived in Fort Wayne then, and Bonahoom volunteered at the event.

“I fell in love with what they did,” said Bonahoom, who now lives in Fishers.

Duane Collicott of Ann Arbor, Mich., has models of an M/V Stewart J. Cort, the first 1,000-foot vessel on the Great Lakes, and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Northport, Mich., on display at Brickworld.

He built the vessel in 2005 – it was one of the first large pieces he built – and most of the time, he said, it sits in his crawl space. But it comes out for conventions like Brickworld.

Over the summer, the piece was on display at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, which commissioned Collicott to build the lighthouse. It recently bought the vessel from him, which he constructed assembly-line style on his kitchen table with his son, William, now 15.

Spencer Rezkalla of Ypsilanti, Mich., has built with Legos as an adult for 10 years. He played with them as a kid and one day started to feel nostalgic for the toy. He looked online and couldn’t believe the things people could build with the tiny block.

Rezkalla has 12 of his 25 model skyscrapers displayed at Brickworld, including the original World Trade Center and its replacement.

“I’ve always been interested in architecture and tall buildings,” said Rezkalla, who was born in New York. “Trying to replicate them in this medium, you’re trying to make something people will recognize.”

He’s had people walk up to his Empire State Building and say, “Right here, this is where I worked.”

As Rezkalla is talking, a man walks up with a young boy. He points to the top of one of the twin towers.

“I was right here,” he said.

Rezkalla smiles.

“See what I mean?”